What is pH in drinking water?
The pH level of your drinking water reflects how acidic it is. pH stands for “potential hydrogen,” referring to the amount of hydrogen mixed with the water. pH is measured on a scale that runs from 0-14. Seven is neutral, indicating there is no acid or alkalinity present. A measurement below 7 indicates acid is present and a measurement above 7 indicates alkalinity.The normal range for pH in ground water lies between 6 and 8.5. By comparison, vinegarmeasures 3 pH, beer measures between 4 and 5, while milk measures around 6.4 pH.Water with a low pH can be acidic, soft and corrosive. This water can leach metals frompipes and fixtures, such as copper, iron, lead, manganese and zinc. It can also cause damageto metal pipes and aesthetic problems, such as a metallic or sour taste, laundry staining orblue-green stains in sinks and drains.Water that contains elevated levels of toxic metals could also show a low pH level.Drinking water with a pH level above 8.5 could indicate that the water is hard. Hardnessdoes not pose a health risk, but can cause aesthetic problems, such as an alkali taste to thewater that makes coffee taste bitter; build-up of scale on pipes and fixtures than can leadto lower water pressure; build-up of deposits on dishes, utensils and laundry basins; difficul-ty in getting soap and detergent to foam; and lowered efficiency of electric water heaters.
What are the health effects of pH?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate the pH level in drinkingwater. It is classified as a secondary drinking water contaminant whose impact is consideredaesthetic. However, the EPA recommends that public water systems maintain pH levels ofbetween 6.5 and 8.5, a good guide for individual well owners.
How do I test for pH?
Contact your local health department for a list of state-certified laboratories that can test the pH level of your water. If it is acidic, less than 7 pH, you may have problems with leach-ing of copper and lead from your plumbing. Consider testing for lead if the pH test showsyour water is highly acidic.
What is the treatment for pH in drinking water?
Treat the problem of acidic, low pH drinking water with a neutralizer. The neutralizer feedsa solution, typically using soda ash, into the water to prevent the water from reacting withthe house plumbing or contributing to corrosion, which can leach metals into the water.Note: neutralizing with soda ash increases the sodium content of the water, which may poseadditional health concerns for your household. Treat hard water with a high pH with an ion-exchange system or the addition of a lime-sodaash mixture. These processes also can increase the sodium content of the water. Contact your water well professional or your local or state health department for guidance.